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22 posts categorized "In the Kitchen"

November 30, 2016

Yes, You Need a Coffee Program

By: Piet E. Jones

Coffee_foodcentricSo, your wine program is the talk of the town. Your craft cocktail program gets updated seasonally to raves and online buzz. Your coffee program…. Wait, what? You don’t have a coffee program? Why not?

People willingly drop big money on coffee. Plus coffee is an integral part of the closing part of any good meal service. It can even be a way to jump that check average up by ten or twenty bucks per person. Without coffee, they might not get that extravagant dessert or relaxing cordial to wrap things up. Or worse, they know someplace else to get that robust cup and either leave to spend that money elsewhere or never come in in the first place because they want a fuller dining experience.

The sad reality, too many restaurants treat coffee as an afterthought and the lack of planning to integrate coffee into what is otherwise a well-choreographed meal shows. Yes, you made the pasta yourself with imported, small batch flour that’s been extruded from a custom ordered, hand-made bronze die. The sausage was created in-house using a heritage pork breed. Everything is served on ceramic plates, made from locally sourced clay, thrown and glazed by two ladies living off the grid just outside of town. Your coffee, well, your coffee comes from the same machine and is served in the same Bunn carafes as the culinarily questionable greasy spoon down the street.

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August 26, 2016

Bring State Fair Flair to Your Menu

State_fair2By: Piet E. Jones

Summer is winding down and there is something in the air. Well, yes, the kids are getting ready to return to school but there’s also something else. The smells are familiar. A little greasy. Something sweet hangs in the air along with some… more earthy smells… 

Yep, it’s time State Fair time again.

The sights and smells of county and state fairs are ingrained into most American’s childhood memories and even if your patrons are no longer the fair going type, there’s much that can be done to play off this seasonal nostalgia. Play up the theme. Pull out a few blue ribbons and celebrate the local foods that make your region great.

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June 6, 2016

Find The Perfect Burger For Your Restaurant

BurgerBy: Piet E. Jones

The lowly burger.

There used to be a sameness about it. No matter where you went. Same buns. Same toppings. Same slices of yellow cheese. Same taste—too often dry and overcooked. Sure, there were good ones to be found, but all too often it was just a quick bite on the run, an afterthought on many a menu.

Today, things have changed. A lot. Burgers have become exciting and dynamic. Buns that can absorb the juices without becoming soggy and disintegrating have elevated the texture. Artisanal cheeses add flavor while celebrating local food culture. Toppings are designed to complement the theme of the restaurant.

With these innovations, the burger, once relegated to diners, fast food, and pubs, has exploded onto the scene. Out of the way, hole in the wall diners are now foodie destinations. Trendy hotspots in newly gentrified neighborhoods tout their burger on social media. Even the most upscale and pricey establishments are jumping on the burger bandwagon.

The key to getting all components together for a signature burger isn't that hard. It just takes a little bit of thought to create a unique combination that appeals to your clientele and fully represents your eatery.

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March 16, 2015

Restaurateurs Invest in a (Bone) Broth

Bone brothBone broth—the hottest trend in 2015 so far—is one of those commodities that came out of seemingly nowhere, and is somewhat of a mystery to diners. First, because the name “bone broth” sounds like it’s the favorite dish of cannibals everywhere; and second, because the name doesn’t give much of a clue as to what it is.  Any chef worth his weight in the kitchen knows how to make stock using bones, so how is bone broth any different?  

 

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February 5, 2015

The New Gold Rush: Citrus

  Buddhas_Hand
The citrus season is on. And with fun (and funny sounding) varieties such as Buddha’s Hand, Sumo, and Cara Cara, the food lover’s fruit basket is overflowing.

When the term citrus comes up, it’s difficult to know which ones will capture the public’s fancy unless you–and Shakespeare–know what’s in a name. For years, it was navel oranges or Valencia oranges, lemons or limes, grapefruit and other generic citrus. But, when a producer of a small, easy-to-peel mandarin orange came up with the name, “Cutie,” the rest as they say, was history. Now there is no end of producers and the clementine, one of the mandarin orange varieties, has become synonymous with this brown bag favorite.

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December 23, 2014

Ask the Chef: Crab Dip

Crab dip blogLast week Blanche in Charlotte, N.C., wrote to us asking for a spinach crab dip recipe. We asked our team of chefs and received two right away! Since this is a popular party dish, we thought we'd share them both with our readers.

The first is from Chef Lonnie Varisco in Houma, La.. He says, "In New Orleans seafood is king. This is a great twist on the classic spinach and artichoke dip. Using crab boil in the recipe provides that classic boiled seafood taste everyone loves down here."

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February 6, 2014

Taking the Confusion Out of Fusion


Fusion
In 1989, acclaimed chef and Miami restaurateur Norman Van Aken  gave a name to the type of cooking that combined crossover flavors from various ethnic cuisines and regional ingredients with classical cooking techniques. He called it “fusion,” borrowing the term from jazz.

Aken’s dishes were complex, both in flavor and technique, for instance Chiles Spiked Veal Adobo with Corn Relish, Garlic and a Spanish Sherry Wine Vinegar Reduction” a Mexican Adobo rub with a classical French sauce and Nueva Pork Havana, marinated in a mix of sour oranges, garlic and so forth, in which he integrated black beans into a sauce with fried plantains, instead of the more expected black beans and rice.

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November 12, 2013

The Vegetable “IT” List

TurnipWhen Norman Rockwell painted his iconic Thanksgiving portrait of the family gathered around a plump turkey, he couldn’t have imagined the holiday in the 21st century. There’s grandma bringing in the bird, all right, but over in the corner, the cousins are fighting over the Tuscan kale.

Vegetables, once a cheap way to stretch a meal, have come into their own. Once folks realized that you didn’t have to cook a vegetable until it was dead, they found out that a vegetable might actually taste good. From there it became a short hop, skip and jump from the gardens to the kitchen. Add in chefs, vegans, vegetarians and nutritionists and suddenly everyone has a new spin on his or her favorite vegetable dish.

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September 17, 2013

Why We Don't Play the Lottery

FC_content_IMG_oliveoil
Haven’t there ever been those moments in your life where you see a product at the grocery store and think: “Oh come on. Who would buy that?” When it comes to the world of culinary delights, we never cease to be amazed at what catches on with consumers. (Hint: We would have bet the wheat farm that gluten-free was just a fad. Man, did we get that wrong.)

We would have been a zillionaire if we had thought up just one of these ideas. Instead we were too busy rolling our eyes.

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July 22, 2013

Bring It On: Attracting The Late Night Diner 24 Hours a Day

FC_content_IMG_latenight
If you live in a town where the sidewalks roll up at 10 p.m., you’ve probably been frustrated by the lack of dining options. There’s a McDonald’s maybe, and then there’s…Well, you see the problem. But after-hours dining has become a hot topic in restaurants. Some see it as a way to cash in on an unfulfilled niche: late night workers and the post-concert crowd. Others say it plays into the way we eat now: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are no longer set times; people like to dine when time allows or when the mood strikes. Although a lot of restaurants stay open late – and by late, we mean 11 a.m. or midnight if you’re lucky - they usually involve the words “do fries come with that?” or “I’d like that straight up with a twist.”

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